Review: Babel, Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution by R.F. Kuang

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I’ve been disappointed by so many highly anticipated books with amazing premises this year that it made me a little wary of starting another. Even if it seemed almost tailor-made for me. But this was luckily the real deal. I loved it. From the first chapter on, I absolutely loved it. From the language geekery, to the brutal takedown of British colonialism and the fact that I kept being pulled back to it whenever I put it down, it completely lived up to the hype for me.

He hated this place. He loved it. He resented how it treated him. He still wanted to be a part of it – because it felt so good to be a part of it, to speak to its professors as an intellectual equal, to be in on the great game.

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Review: Dead Collections by Isaac Fellman

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I loved The Breath of the Sun and its prose so much the author landed on my auto-buy list. How could I not try Dead Collections as soon as I could get my hands on it? Especially with this gorgeous cover, especially when the premise is “trans archivist vampire”? Luckily, it was very much not another highly anticipated disappointment, but delivered exactly what I wanted – quiet, messily queer literary fantasy with excellent prose.

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Mini Reviews: Penric’s Travels, His Quiet Agent, Od Magic, All the Horses of Iceland

The December binge combined with the spell of fatigue that lasted most of January and left me unable to do much (I’m better now, I think) mean that I’ve been left with quite the review backlog. This is not all of them yet, not quite, but it’s a start – and best of all, this time they are not DNFs, but books I quite liked. Every single one of them.

Now, onto the reviews themselves!

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Review: A Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson

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You did not let me keep my name, so I will strip you of yours. In this world, you are what I say you are, and I say you are a ghost, a long night’s fever dream that I have finally woken up from. I say you are the smoke-wisp memory of a flame, thawing ice suffering under an early spring sun, a chalk ledger of debts being wiped clean.

I say you do not have a name.

After two DNFs in a row threatening to push me into a slump, and a general over a month long streak of mostly unsatisfying reads, I needed something good. And short. At barely over novella length, dark, and beautifully written, A Dowry of Blood, luckily, turned out to be the perfect recommendation.

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Review: Arcane (s01)

We lost ourselves. Lost our dream. In the pursuit of great, we failed to do good.

I don’t generally make a habit of reviewing tv shows – I watch few enough, only a handful of them SFF, and I finish even fewer. But ArcaneArcane deserves an exception. That a videogame tie-in animated series, and one for a game I’ll never play or care about, would have turned out to be one of the best-written things of the year was not on anyone’s bingo card, but it sure is a welcome surprise regardless.

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Review: Elder Race by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Elder Race by Tchaikovsky, Adrian (ebook)

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I knew I needed this pretty much as soon as I heard what was it about, doubly so when I saw the cover. And after a long string of sub-par reads, a book that actually lived up to its promise was more than welcome.

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Review: Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots

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No one wants to be a real hero; it’s too hard. My husband didn’t give a damn whether the work I was doing was noble as long as it appeared to be. When I killed someone then—something I did a lot more than I do now—it was for the greater good. It was such bullshit.

I’ve never much liked or cared about superheroes – what’s some asshole in a cape? Despite my friends’ gushing, I didn’t put Hench on my radar until there was a sale, and….wait. Mundane job? Spreadsheets? Fuck me, I’m in. I’ve always had enough of a hard-on for bureaucracy and other usually boring shit in books to override subgenre preferences and sure enough, it was exactly my thing. The characters’ low opinion of superheroes was the final cherry on top.

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Review: The Light Between Worlds by Laura Weymouth

Amazon.com: The Light Between Worlds: 9780062696878: Weymouth, Laura E:  Books

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And we’re all a little frayed around the edges, aren’t we? It doesn’t surprise me and it doesn’t frighten me, finding out you’re only human like the rest of us.

This is one of my favourite finds this year.

Have you ever wondered what happens to children violently thrown from portal fantasy worlds? Do you think Susan from Narnia deserved better? Are you looking for something quiet and melancholy? Did you wish the Wayward Children novellas were darker and longer? Then you should absolutely read it.

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Review: The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

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“You speak of mapmaking as if there’s nobility in it.”

“There is,” he agreed. A moment, and then he added: “Just as there is in gravedigging. Neither occupation is particularly romantic, but I suspect the world would be a sorrier place without us.”

I had this book in my sights ever since it came out, part because of the disability rep, part because of the romance subplot. I don’t know what finally persuaded me to give it a go, but I’m so glad I did. I nearly read it all in one day and it was exactly what I wanted and needed it to be.

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Review: Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer (Terra Ignota #1)

Too Like the Lightning: 1 (Terra Ignota): Amazon.co.uk: Palmer, Ada:  9781786699503: Books

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I’m not sure where to even start with this book – I’m not sure a review can do it justice. I picked it up because I heard about the 18th century references and it turned out to be one of the craziest, best, wildest, most cursed rides involving a lot of quite uncharacteristic incoherent screaming. It has to be experienced to be believed. As hard as it was to tell from my commentary while I was reading it, I think I might have a new favourite series. Definitely not for everyone, but very up multiple of my niche alleys.

I struggle to open history’s inner doors to you, to teach you how those who made this new era think and feel. In my age we have come anew to see history as driven not by DNA and economics, but by man. And woman. And so must you.

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